Including a special Yamaha news update.
Shortly before setting off for the Frankfurt musical equipment exhibition, Yamaha were kind enough to slip us the wink regarding the range of new products they'll be launching there.
Undoubtedly the most impressive item was the SPX90 Digital Multi-Effects Processor. This modest looking, 1U 19" rack mounting unit offers a range of 30 useful digital effects in ROM plus 60 further RAM memories into which you can write your own modified programmes — there are up to nine variable parameters for each effect. And all this for an unbelievable RRP of £599. The factory effects include four kinds of Reverb, two Early Reflections, Stereo Delay, Stereo Echo, two Stereo Flangers, two Choruses, Stereo Phasing, Tremolo, Symphonic, Gated Reverb, Reverse Gate, ADR-Noise Gate, Compressor, Reverb and Gate, four types of Pitch Change (+/-1 octave), two types of Freeze one of which allows the frozen sample to be played from a MIDI keyboard, Auto Pan, Triggered Pan, Delay Vibrato and a Digital Parametric Eq. It's aimed at high quality PA and small studio applications and the technical spec is quite respectable — one input, two outputs, 16-bit linear quantisation, 31.25kHz sampling, 20Hz to 12kHz bandwidth, 75dB/81dB dynamic range for reverb/delay respectively, and naturally it's MIDI controllable. I suspect it's going to be a buyer's market for R1000 reverb units in 1986. If they're as good as they seem, expect to see racks of four or five SPX's in every mid-priced studio in the country very soon.
In answer to the likes of the Fostex X-15 and the Tascam PortaOne, Yamaha have launched the MT1X. It's a four-track, four-channel recorder/mixer running at the slower speed of 1⅞ips and using dbx noise reduction. Not only is it capable of all permutations of channel/track routing and recording, not only does it have a special 'straight through' channel for the reliable recording of sync pulses onto track one, but it actually offers an auxiliary send per channel plus a stereo auxiliary return. The price of £449 includes a mains power supply, a battery pack is an extra at £21.
The MIDI-less PF10 and PF15 FM pianos are to be superceded by the MIDI-equipped PF70 and PF80. Both instruments were covered in last month's show preview.
Other interesting products included a range of new guitars and a five-string bass; the QX21: a two-track sequencer destined to replace the QX7 at £259; the RX21L: a Latin percussion version of the existing RX21 drum machine at £249; the MEP4: a 'MIDI Event Processor' which adds another level of sophistication to a MIDI system by providing a means of filtering, delaying and generally modifying MIDI messages in realtime at approx £299; the MCS2: a unit which allows additional performance facilities (pitch bend, mod wheel, portamento, soft pedal, etc) to be added into a system or to an instrument which lacks them — approx. £249; the WXY-05R, a diversity radio system for guitars at between £400 and £500; the PM3000 eight group professional live sound mixing console — prices to be announced; the P2075 75w into 4ohms stereo power amp; and the SDS Series: a range of new reasonably priced effects pedals.
For CX5M owners there is the SFG-05, new FM Sound Synthesizer Module plus a new range of software for composition, voice programming (including the DX-7), RX drum machine editing, sequencing and finally musical education. These programmes will now be available on 3.5" floppy disk for use with the new Yamaha FD-05, 720kbyte disk drive (£274+£125 for the cable) two of which can be connected to the CX5M via its cartridge port. As if this weren't enough, a new 'mouse' attachment (as made famous by the IBM PC personal computer), the MU 01, allows quicker, more effective operation, RRP £69. The Playcard system for the CX5M will also be available shortly.
Yamaha stressed that these products only represented their new products for the first six months of 1986, and that there would shortly be another wave of goodies... I think I'll have to get an industrial word processor.
Arriving on the news desk too late to be included in our Frankfurt preview issue, but certainly worth checking out when they hit the shops in a month or so, area number of products from Ibanez and Tama, both distributed over here by CSL. High on the list of over 60 new products are five new guitars: the intriguingly named George Benson and Allan Holdsworth models, the rather more self-explanatory five-string bass, the LE520 Electric/acoustic, and a new MIDI guitar, about which I know very little yet...
The GB30 George Benson machine aims to replicate the lightweight construction of the original made for George, in recognition of the greater time he spends singing rather than playing these days. It features two Super 58 pickups mounted on a 43mm thick semi-acoustic body, the same size as the well known AM70, and the same shape as the equally-popular GB10.
The AH20 Allan Holdsworth model, based on the AH10, features two AH Special pickups with adjustable polepieces, and an aluminium Power tremrocker Special trem, for replicating the great man's distinctively rich sound.
Potentially the most interesting (non-MIDI) instrument of the lot is the RB885, with its additional low B string giving you the kind of bowel-churning range associated with such luminaries as New Order's Peter Hook. For those who prefer invading the guitarist's territory, though, an additional High C string and graphite nut is also included. No 'official' RRP, but prices for the GB30 may be expected to be around £650 (making it pretty pricey for a guitar designed to be worn more than played!), around £450 for the AM20, and about £425 for the RB885.
Competition in the interesting stakes, too, from LE 520, which combines a bridge-mounted piezo pickup with an IBZ Special humbucker in an attempt to be the best of both worlds. Does it work? We'll see, we'll see...
Ibanez have also been expanding their respected range of pedal and rack-mountable effects, running in price from an estimated £85 for the CCL Dual Chorus pedal (two entirely independent channels in the unit allow 'classic' chorus effects and modulation-dependent effects such as flanging, doubling and echo to be simultaneously 'preset' and recalled independently) to £320 for the rackmounting DD1000 DDL. Equipped with both phono and RCA jacks in recognition of the needs of home recordists, and with a delay time ranging from 4 to 1024 ms at 12 kHz bandwidth this unit too draws on the 'doubling-up' design. Two entirely separate channels of sound can be processed or combined for subtle effects such as chorus with predelay, or stereo applications.
Elsewhere in the range, you'll find the slightly less flexible DD700 DDL (£199), and the DML digital modulation delay pedal. More info from CSL on (Contact Details).
TAC have released further details of the sound reinforcement gear they have just exhibited at Frankfurt, including three new additions to the Scorpion series of audio mixing consoles: the Scorpion FB, available in both 18/8 and 30/12 formats, features extensive outboard eq; pre-production models have already gigged successfully with UB40, UFO and Midge Ure. A new version of the Scorpion recording console is being introduced too. With 28 inputs, 12 busses, and 12 dual group monitoring modules, it is intended to bring full 24 track recording within the budget of the home musician. (Though not within the budget of the home musician writing this!)
Also lookout for an updated version of the TAC Matchless Console, now featuring monitor mute, PFL and eq to monitor switching, and a larger frame capable of handling 36 inputs in four stereo groups. Look out too for the company's very sophisticated modular Electronic Crossover System. Featuring a separate module for every band, the TAC TX10 has a 19" rack configuration, capable of taking 10 units at a time, each with its own output display, gain control, adjustable limiting, and 360 degrees of phase trim.
More info on all this lot from TAC on: (Contact Details).
Also arriving too late for our main Frankfurt preview last month, but well worth a mention here, is Roland's latest addition to their revolutionary range of MIDI guitar synth-controllers. And budding Pino Palladino types out there should pay close attention: the G77FL is a fretless guitar controller. With an RRP of £775, expect it here in April.
Good news too for the computer music fraternity; Roland's forays in this area, via the MPU/IBM interface and associated software, though excellent, hasn't fared well in the UK market, due to the high cost of IBM-style machines. In a flash of mass-marketing commonsense, however, Roland have now produced an MPU interface for the Commodore 64 micro, to be available at £85, distributed through specialist distributors, Musicalc.
Accompanying the hardware will be the MIDI Users Sequencer/Editor software — a lot of money at £180(!), but by all accounts, a lot of program too. Who knows, if this exercise in popular computing takes off, we may perhaps anticipate not only more but cheaper software too.
OHM have taken a step upmarket with the latest in their ever-expanding range of sound reinforcement gear. Their new BA cab, the MR228, provides 300 watts of full-range sound, delivered from a pair of 8" drivers and two HF piezo tweeters, into a cab based on the famous Bose Design.
You won't mistake these for those (these for Bose?), though — each cabinet boasts a sculpted acoustic foam front — with the word Ohm etched into it, in large, friendly foam letters.
At £530 per pair including stands to match, these cabs, aimed at installation work, are quite a bit more upmarket than many of the existing Ohm lines, and the company obviously have high hopes for them. If you want to know more, call Ohm on: (Contact Details).
For the drummer who has everything — sticks that glow in the dark. No, no really, they do — Pro Mark's Lightning Bolt sticks use no batteries, electrical cords or chemicals, are 'charged' simply by exposure to ordinary incandescent or fluorescent light for a few moments, and produce an intense glow in low-light conditions which lasts as long as the sticks do. So, now can you not only find your sticks if you lose them in a coal mine, you can, and I quote: 'create a fantastic light show for the audience', simply by playing. Wow. Details from Pro-Mark, (Contact Details).
The tireless Ned Steinberger has added yet another model to his company's ever-expanding range of revolutionary guitars and basses, in the form of the GP-2S guitar with S-trem. Presumably building on the success of his patented transposing tremolo, the TransTrem guitar, constructed with the famous Steinberger graphite-moulded neck and maple body, features a locking lever on the tremolo, allowing both tremolo and 'straight' styles to be played from the same guitar. In the event of a broken string it allows you to continue playing with the other strings still in tune. Yours for a mere $1095.
Further details from UK distributors Musimex, on: (Contact Details)
Trade shows are to new products what honey is to bees: sticky. No, I'll say that again: in the wake of Frankfurt, the next big international date in the calendar, as far as manufacturers and users of pro studio gear are concerned, is the 4th-7th of March. Right now, hordes of clever and rich people will be congregating at the 80th AES (Audio Engineering Society) Convention and exhibition in Montreux, there to see Klark Teknik's range of signal processing equipment. Amongst other things being demoed will be the DN780 digital reverb, complete with new software, the ability to 'create' everything from a small room to a large hall, 50 user memories, and 'user-friendly' operation, and the Series 700 DDL, designed specifically to solve audio/visual sync problems. More info on (Contact Details).
Also to be encountered at the show, the Mitsubishi Pro Audio Group will be displaying a prototype two-channel digital recorder, the X-86, and the X-850 32-channel digital recorder, the only 32-track digital machine manufactured, and the only digital multitrack to allow traditional 'cut'n'splice' editing of the digitally recorded information... not to mention their audio consoles, film dubbing gear, and the rest.
The Tanrak range of rackmounting effects for home and semi-pro studio applications (originally reviewed in the September '85 issue of IM&RW) has now been expanded to no less than 15 separate modules, with more in the pipeline. Latest of these is the Digital Sampler-Delay, offering both 15kHz DDL and sampling functions. The basic sample time of 1.4 second may be stretched, at the expense of bandwidth, to eight seconds, and played from a CV/Gate equipped synth, respond to velocity sensitivity, be looped, overdubbed, and edited. In line with Tantek's 'budget' philosophy, the unit is yours for a very reasonable £299.95, or an even more reasonable £219.95 in DIY kit form.
More details on the entire Tanrak range from Tantek, on: (Contact Details).
Musical equipment distributors John Hornby Skewes have secured the UK rights to the Istanbul range of cymbals. Hand made in Istanbul, signed individually by the cymbal smith responsible, these top-flight, pro instruments are not cheap. Prices start at £50 for an 8" splash, rising to £192 for a 24" ride, but every one is unique, and with a range of over 80 models available, covering everything from Paper-thins to 'Pang' rides, there's a good chance of finding one that's just right for you.
Supplies are limited though, so to find out where your nearest stockist is before it's too late, call JHS on: (Contact Details).
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